Last week, a rare Harp Seal was seen and photographed in a Meadowlands natural area by Steve McNamara of the Dawson Group.
When we got word of the discovery, we went to the location with the MEC's Sue Lewicki, who is a volunteer with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine to make sure everything was all right. (Thanks, Steve, for taking the photos accompanying this post, and thank to Peg McBrien of The Louis Berger Group for forwarding the photos to us.)
We are happy to report that the seal had apparently moved on. It turns out that these seals, which typically live in the Northern Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, have been seen farther and farther south this winter.
Sue Lewicki points out that the Marine Mammal Stranding Center has four Harp Seals in holding tanks at the moment. (Link to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is here.)
Tom Lake, Hudson River Estuary Program Naturalist for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, reports: "We have had at least one (healthy) Harp Seal in the Hudson in each of the last two winters as far upstream as river mile 41. I know of no occurrences prior to that time so maybe there is some kind of minor shift in their population and range. Climate change, etc., has us thinking along those lines with both fish and marine mammals."
More on Harp Seals here.
Next week: What to do if you see a seal in a North Jersey waterway.
With the recent thaw, Kearny Marsh is open again, and featuring a nice mix: a Common Moorhen, many American Coot and Common Merg, Hooded Merg, Northern Shoveler and Black Duck, along with a Great Blue Heron and several immature Double-crested Cormorant.
Navjot Singh took this shot of a Ruddy Duck at DeKorte park last weekend.
He notes, "The late evening light and the reflection from the phragmites creates a beautiful golden color in the water." Indeed.
Our First-Sunday-of-the-Month Walk is at 10 a.m. this Sunday at Mill Creek Marsh.
We'll look for some early spring migrants, Bald Eagles, Gray Ghosts and waterfowl, including the elusive Eurasian Green-winged Teal.
Link to our blog post on what we saw on our last guided walk to Mill Creek Marsh is here.
Full information, including directions to Mill Creek Marsh, follows.Please check meadowblog.net in case of last-minute rain cancellations. The walk will most likely be held rain or shine.
Dennis Cheeseman took these shots, of a Greater Scaup and a Fox Sparrow, on Friday.
The scaup was in a stream along Valley Brook Avenue in Lyndhurst.
The Fox Sparrow was in one of the conifers next to the far parking lot at DeKorte. (Thanks, Dennis!)
Ron Shields took this shot (right) of the Red-shouldered Hawk leaving a perch along Disposal Road on Thursday.
He also photographed the light-phased Rough-legged Hawk (below) along Disposal Road on Thursday as well.
We post them in case anyone is interested in seeing one this weekend — these two species are typically not the easiest to find, and the Rough-leg will likely be heading north in coming days.